MoH still thinking about vaccines under 5 but will give boosters for rest

The Ministry of Health (MoH) received 33,600 doses of Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine donated by the U.S government earlier this week, to be used to vaccinate children who turn 5 years old with the first dose. The remaining pediatric vaccine supply will be used to give booster dose to children 5 to 11 years sometime in October 2022. There are 83,000 children in this group.

An official from MoH said the children who will be attaining five years of age every day will be given the first dose of pediatric vaccine in the health facilities in various dzongkhags. Currently, the ministry is collecting the number of children in all the dzongkhags.

While vaccines last for six months to 4 years, the official said there are vaccines approved by CDC and FDA, but not many countries have rolled out the vaccines for these groups except for a few countries.

The data on the need for vaccines for children under five years is very less. Also, NITAG has not yet recommended vaccines for children under five years old, said the official.

However, the ministry is planning and communicating with the Pfizer company to procure the pediatric vaccines, and study the methods to vaccinate 6 months to four years old children. The ministry has already made the pre-financing for the vaccines, and is also looking for donations for vaccines as well.

Similarly, another booster dose for the vulnerable population will be rolled out in December 2022.

MoH rolled out the fourth booster dose to vulnerable groups of population sometime in the beginning of the year. Vulnerable groups are those at 60 and above and anyone with comorbid conditions including health staff, frontliners and those who are leaving abroad.

Bhutan received a total of 595,940 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the United States of America, with the goodwill to protect the lives of children in Bhutan and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

USAID’s Mission Director to India and Bhutan, Veena Reddy, said, “The United States is committed to a global COVID-19 response because it makes us all stronger and safer Americans and Bhutanese alike.”

Since the outset of the pandemic, the U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has partnered with Bhutan to build the nation’s resilience, strengthen its healthcare capacity, train healthcare workers, and promote pandemic prevention, readiness, and response, while also supporting microenterprises and entrepreneurs to overcome the economic impacts of the pandemic.

USAID’s COVID-19-related risk communication messaging has reached approximately 90 percent of Bhutan’s population, helping Bhutan maintain one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world.

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